Father and son Arnold and Jesse Friedman were convicted in an unbelievable sex abuse case in the late 1980’s, in which they were accused of engaging in ritualistic Satanic sexual abuse during a national panic about the issue. It was unbelievable at the time because people were horrified that this could happen. It is unbelievable now because the case has fallen apart and has been shown to be a fraud.
But this fraud destroyed two men’s lives, sending both to prison. Jesse Friedman is still fighting to clear his name, and is running into opposition from the prosecutors who wrongly sent him to prison. The determination to hide the evidence that the younger Friedman is seeking is a shameful abuse of power and should be rejected by the courts. If the courts will not step in, all relevant officials should fight to see these records released.
This case is but one example of a criminal justice system gone haywire, abandoning a true search for justice to cater to the hysteria of the day and putting all of us at risk of a government that continually abuses its power. The ritualistic sex abuse scandals of the 1980’s were the modern-day version of the Salem witch trials and the worst abuses of the Spanish Inquisition – demonstrating that a secular government can be every bit as dangerous as wild-eyed religious fanatics. (Which we already knew, thanks to the tens of millions of dead bodies created by Communism.)
What this case shows is the need for serious criminal justice reform, staring with eliminating immunity that law enforcement (especially prosecutors) enjoy from civil and criminal liability for misbehavior. More transparency is needed as well. There is no reason to hide the records in a closed case, especially when the wrongfully convicted person has been exonerated. There should be criminal penalties (including prison time) for refusing to turn over records in cases such as the Friedman case. Such stubbornness is the opposite of justice.
After decades of the “tough on crime” hysteria, we are (thankfully) seeing some pushback and a bipartisan concern for civil liberties. But there are entrenched interests within the justice system that will fight ferociously to preserve their privileges. Only a bipartisan coalition can restrain the abuses of the criminal justice system by taking the politics out of it. Let’s hope this happens sooner rather than later.